The Bucs are finalizing a deal with former No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield, NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported on Wednesday, per sources.
Mayfield, 27, will sign a one-year deal worth up to $8.5 million, per NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. Mayfield's deal with Tampa Bay will include $2 million signing bonus, Pelissero added.
Mayfield was traded to the Carolina Panthers last July, starting six games there before being released and signing with the Rams a few days later, starting four games in place of an injured Matthew Stafford.
Mayfield's career has taken some twists and turns the past few years, but he's landing in a place where there's a clear path to a starting job. Incumbent Kyle Trask is also expected to vie for starting honors.
The former No. 1 overall pick of the Cleveland Browns in the 2018 NFL Draft, Mayfield finished strong his rookie year but slumped a bit in Year 2. He rebounded in a big way during the tumultuous 2020 season, leading the Browns to the playoffs for the first time in 18 years. Mayfield's three TD passes versus the Steelers in the wild-card round led the Browns to their first playoff win in 26 years and their first road win in the postseason since 1969.
But things turned sour in Cleveland, with Mayfield struggling and enduring a public feud with Odell Beckham Jr. Despite playing with an injured shoulder in the 2021 season, Mayfield was made into the scapegoat and was traded to Carolina just a few weeks before training camp a year ago.
The pairing with lame-duck head coach Matt Rhule didn't work out. Mayfield started the Panthers' first five games before being benched. He'd start once more, in Week 11, prior to his release. The Rams pounced in claiming Mayfield, who miraculously played the bulk of their game three days later against the Raiders, leading an improbable victory with a game-winning TD pass in the waning seconds.
In 72 career games (69 starts), Mayfield has completed 61.4% of his passes, throwing for 16,288 yards, 102 TDs and 64 picks, also rushing for 660 yards and six scores. His teams' career record with Mayfield as a starter is 31-38-0.
Mayfield won't have a chance for revenge against the Browns next regular season, but he and the Bucs will face the Panthers -- sans Rhule -- twice in 2023. As a rookie, Mayfield threw two TD passes at Raymond James Stadium against the Bucs, bringing the Browns back from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter before Tampa Bay won in overtime.
The NFC South will have a different QB feel next season with Mayfield in Tampa and Derek Carr in New Orleans. Every team in the division has added a new quarterback this offseason, and the Panthers are roundly expected to pick one with their first-round selection.